Information about the author.
Suburban Long Island in the 60s is the setting for this story of the binding love between a young couple, and the drastic actions they must take when she becomes pregnant. From the author of The Bigamist’s Daughter.
Billy Lynch’s family and friends have gathered at a small Bronx bar. They have come to comfort his widow and to eulogize one of the last great romantics, trading tales of his famous humor, immense charm, and unfathomable sorrow. As they linger on into this extraordinary night, their voices form Billy’s tragic story and their mourning becomes a gentle homage to all the lives in their small community fractured by grief, shattered by secrets, and sustained by the simple dream of love.
Alice McDermott’s powerful novel is a vivid portrait of an American family in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Witty, compassionate, and wry, it captures the social, political, and spiritual upheavals of those decades through the experiences of a middle-class couple, their four children, and the changing worlds in which they live. While Michael and Annie Keane taste the alternately intoxicating and bitter first fruits of the sexual revolution, their older, more tentative brother, Jacob, lags behind, until he finds himself on the way to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Clare, the youngest child of their aging parents, seeks to maintain an almost saintly innocence. After This, alive with the passions and tragedies of a determining era in our history, portrays the clash of traditional, faith-bound life and modern freedom, while also capturing, with McDermott’s inimitable understanding and grace, the joy, sorrow, anger, and love that underpin, and undermine, what it is to be a family.
Scenes of a family unfold through childrens’ eyes in Alice McDermott’s extraordinary novel. Here, among family rituals and relationships, love and longing, recriminations and regret, an Irish-Catholic family comes vividly, brilliantly to life.
Twice a week, Lucy Dailey leaves suburbia with her three children in tow, returning to the Brooklyn home where she grew up, and where her stepmother and unmarried sisters still live. Lucy longs for the ineffable as her sisters grapple with alcohol and absolution and her mother wrestles with the past.
Aunt Veronica, with her wounded face and dreams of beauty, drowns her sorrows in drink. Aunt Agnes, an acerbic student of elegance, sips only from the finest crystal as she sees Aunt May, the ex-nun who has vowed to find happiness, blossom with a late and unexpected love….
And the children watch, absorbing the legacy of their haunted family: “…like the dead, their presence would be all the more inescapable when they were gone.”